2020 was to be my year, it’s certainly been a year to remember. The muscles in my neck ache every time I turn my head. My shoulder feels heavy, stiff and heavy.
What an awful, awful year. I can’t remember the last time I had a day off, 14-hour days, 7 days a week and not a penny to show for it. If it carries on like this, I’ll be paying for the fuel out of my own pocket, fuel to just roam the streets looking for work!
The virus has scared away all my regular customers. There’s barely anyone to see on the streets. More money, more problems they say, no money and so many problems for me.
Missus isn’t happy either, she barely gets to see me and when she does, I’m zoned out, no help at all with the kids. We’re living on basic rations, hand to mouth stuff. The bills are piling up and I am already behind on my mortgage payments.
There has been no help from the government, not surprising, although thankfully the taxi company reduced the rent but at the same time, they reduced the fares too!!
It was getting late and I was exhausted. I had only five jobs to show for the whole day. When I spoke to the operator at the office, I asked him to find me something to take me home.
‘Stanley Road, ready for pick up now?’
It wasn’t quite near my home, but it was in the same direction and I wasn’t in a position to decline.
I headed straight for the pickup and as I turned the corner, I could see through the rain the passenger waiting by the side of the road. We exchanged greetings and I started on with the journey. The passenger seemed lost in his thoughts and as experience had taught me, if they don’t instigate the conversation, it means they want to be left alone. So, we continued in silence.
I felt a pang of guilt as the passenger walked away, after tipping me for the ride. Maybe I should have struck a conversation with him?? Maybe I got the tip for the silence?!? Bless him, either way, it can’t be easy for him either in the current climate.
I was still thinking about it, when I heard the operator call in another job, the drop off was right next to my house. I took it and sped towards it as quick as I could.
A couple got into the car, they seemed friendly and we chatted along the way. As we pulled up near the drop off point, the husband leaned forward:
“Mate, just drop my wife here, we live in that cul-de-sac and can you drop me off around the corner”
“Yeah no worries” I replied, as I pulled over
As the woman went to leave, she whispered to her husband
“Don’t do it Pete, don’t.”
She then turned around to me and softly whispered ‘sorry’.
I smiled back at her, caught up in the situation I didn’t pay attention to what she had said. I drove around the block and pulled up to where I was instructed to. The male passenger got out of the car, reaching in his back pocket as he did, I started rolling my window down in anticipation.
But as soon as he had shut the door he darted off, jumping over a fence and disappearing into a field. I got out of the car but there was no point, he was long gone. The wife’s ‘sorry’ echoed in my head, as I turned around and drove back to where I had dropped her off. I had been too distracted by the male passenger and hadn’t seen the house she had gone into. Completely downtrodden, I called the office and reported the ’runner’, as per office policy.
They blacklisted the caller’s number and offered me another job close by, I refused. I was fed up, I switched the system off and drove home.
Just as I got home my phone started ringing, I couldn’t face talking to anyone, I was done for the day, the week, the year. I walked in, went straight to the shower, chomped down some dinner and hit the sack. I heard my wife whisper ‘good night’ as I drifted off, I was too exhausted to reply.
My eyes awoke to a silent house, my wife nowhere to be seen. I had overslept. Why had my alarm not gone off?! I searched around for my phone and realised when I saw it that the battery had died – I’d forgotten to put it on charge. When I got out of the shower, I could hear my phone ringing, on charge in my bedroom, it was the office;
“Where have you been, we’ve been trying to ring you all night”
“Sorry my battery was dead, I’ll be logged on and ready in a short while, is it busy?”
“Can you come into the office; I need to see you. In the meantime, a driver is headed towards your house, someone left a phone in your car last night, can you give it to the driver, he will pass it on”
I went to look in my car and under the passenger seat there was a phone, it was locked and on silent but had a few missed calls on it. When the other driver turned up, I handed it to him and headed to the office myself, wondering why he wanted to see me. He rarely calls drivers in.
He was fuming. The guy who had left his phone in my car last night had left a bad review on Facebook. Unlucky for us the review had hit a chord with several people and was now doing the rounds on social media.
“How many times have I said, check the car when you drop a passenger off before heading to your next job”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry. It was just such a long day yesterday man, I usually do but I don’t know, I got another job and it was near my house so I just kind of sped off for it. A waste of time, it was a bloody runner!”
“You’ll get compensated for your dead mileage on that don’t worry, part of the job, but why the hell was your phone turned off all night? We could have rectified this issue straight away if you answered your phone”
“Sorry man, my battery went dead, hence the late start today! Sorry.”
I left the office feeling crap. It wasn’t a telling-off really, the gaffers a good man, but I’d caused a big problem. What a start to the day!? I logged onto the system and was greeted with the news that I was at the back of a 55-car queue. Brilliant, another long day, another day to figure out how to get on top of those bills and keep a roof over my head.